FIRST AID FACT SHEET
How to treat broken bones and fractures
A fracture is a broken bone. It can be difficult to tell whether the injury is a fracture, dislocation, sprain or strain. If in doubt, always treat as a fracture.
Types of Fractures
DO NOT attempt to force a fracture back into place.
DO NOT bandage over the fracture.
Signs and symptoms
1. Encourage the person to support the injury with their hand, or use a cushion or item of clothing to prevent unnecessary movement. Supporting the injury may help relieve pain and prevent further damage. Support the limb above and below the injury if possible.
What is a broken bone?
A broken bone happens when one of your bones becomes cracked or broken into multiple pieces. It’s also known as a fracture. It can result from a sports injury, accident, or violent trauma.
Broken bones usually aren’t life threatening, but they do require immediate medical care. Learn how to recognize the symptoms of a broken bone, provide first-aid treatment, and get professional help.
A broken bone can cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
If you suspect that someone has a broken bone, provide first-aid treatment and help them get professional care:
If the person doesn’t appear to be breathing, is unconscious, or both, call 911 for medical help and begin CPR. You should also call 911 if:
Otherwise, help them get to the emergency department by car or other means so a doctor can diagnose their condition and recommend appropriate treatment.
Last medically reviewed on October 17, 2016
Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Broken bones (or fractures) are a common injury, especially after a fall. No matter what part might be broken or how big or small the injury may seem, all broken bones need medical care.
Here's what to do if you or someone you are with might have a broken bone.
Signs & Symptoms of a Broken Bone
A bone might be broken if:
What to Do
Call 911 Right Away If:
Not every fracture can be prevented. But you can make a break less likely. Follow these tips:
Moving a victim with a head, neck, or spinal cord injury should be left to paramedics or other professionals because permanent damage could result from improper handling.
If a victim must be pulled to safety, move him or her lengthwise and head first, supporting the head and neck. Keep the spine in alignment.
For burns, the immediate goals are to relieve pain, prevent infection, and treat for shock.
Treating Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Improperly working camp stoves and lanterns, as well as wood and charcoal fires, can produce lethal carbon monoxide.
Treating a Chest Wound
A bullet striking the chest can cause a sucking chest wound—a deep, open wound of the chest wall that allows air into the chest cavity.